Altoida Celebrates Historic Day for Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease: A Breakdown of the Differences and Similarities

June 28, 2022Neelem Sheikh

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are both neurological diseases that cause progressive damage to the brain, resulting in a decline in neurocognitive function. While Parkinson’s disease is known for affecting movement and function and Alzheimer’s disease is known for affecting cognition, they are a bit more complex than that. 

Below, we provide an overview of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease with a comparison of key similarities and differences.

Dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory, reasoning, thinking, or other cognitive functions. These symptoms may include a decline in memory, poor reasoning and judgment skills, changes in thinking or problem-solving abilities, and changes in language and communication abilities.

Many of the following conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, can cause dementia:

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for approximately 60% to 80% of all dementia cases. Most commonly, Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles resulting from abnormal tau hyperphosphorylation.

These plaques, tangles, and the loss of neuronal connections cause progressive damage to the brain, starting in parts of the brain responsible for memory (entorhinal cortex and hippocampus). As the disease progresses, this damage continues to spread to other regions of the brain, such as parts of the cerebral cortex responsible for reasoning, language, and social behavior. 

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is most commonly known for affecting function and movement, though it also affects cognition, particularly as the disease progresses. Parkinson’s disease primarily impacts dopaminergic, or dopamine-producing, neurons in a specific area of the brain known as the substantia nigra. Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter that transmits signals between neurons and plays a crucial role in movement and motor control.

The lack of dopamine makes it challenging for the brain to coordinate muscle movements and can also contribute to mood and cognitive issues later in the disease course. Patients with Parkinson’s disease also lose nerve endings that produce norepinephrine, a chemical messenger of the sympathetic nervous system responsible for controlling a wide range of functions in the body, such as blood pressure and heart rate.

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease: Similarities and Differences 

Similar cognitive and functional impairments are observable in both diseases. However, different proportions, varying manifestations along the disease continuums, and different rates of occurrence set the two apart.

Generally speaking, Parkinson’s patients will show early signs of functional impairment and in later stages may experience cognitive impairment, such as memory and thinking issues, if they develop dementia. According to the National Parkinson’s Foundation, recent studies that followed Parkinson’s patients over the course of the disease estimate that 50% to 80% of people with Parkinson’s disease eventually develop dementia. Conversely, earlier symptoms of Alzheimer’s patients may be more biased towards cognitive impairment, with functional impairments observed in later stages of the disease. 

Characteristic/Symptom Alzheimer's Disease Parkinson's Disease
Average age of onset
  • Early-onset: Before age 60
  • Late-onset: After mid-60s
  • Early-onset: Before age 50
  • Late-onset: 50-65
    Neuropathological hallmarks
    • Tau hyperphosphorylation, beta-amyloid plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, glial responses, neuronal loss, synaptic loss
    • Key proteins: beta-amyloid and tau
    • Nigral degeneration, brainstem Lewy bodies, alpha-synucleinopathy
    • Key proteins: alpha-synuclein
    Established risk factors
    • Advanced age
    • Female sex
    • Genetics
    • Poor lifestyle habits (e.g. poor diet, lack of exercise, poor sleep, smoking, etc.)
    • Vascular conditions (e.g. stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol)
    • Head trauma
    • Hearing loss
    • Advanced age
    • Male sex
    • Genetics
    • Environmental factors (e.g., exposure to toxins)
    • Head trauma
    Significant memory loss
    • Always
    • Possible years after disease onset
    Challenges with spatial relationships between objects or with sense of direction
    • Possible
    • Possible
    Decline in thinking abilities that interfere with Activities of Daily Living
    • Always
    • Possible years after disease onset
    Difficulty with planning or problem-solving
    • Possible
    • Possible
    Changes in mood
    • Possible
    • Possible
    Language problems
    • Possible
    • Possible
    Fluctuations in cognitive abilities, attention, and alertness
    • Possible
    • Possible
    Challenges with balancing
    • Unlikely
    • Possible
    Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder
    • Unlikely
    • Possible
    Hallucinations
    • Unlikely
    • Possible
    Severe sensitivity to medications used to treat hallucinations
    • Unlikely
    • Possible
    Changes in movement, including gait changes and tremors
    • Unlikely
    • Always

    Altoida: Pioneering AI-Enabled Precision Diagnosis

    At Altoida, we are building the world’s-first Precision Neurology platform and app-based medical device—backed by 11 years of clinical validation—to accelerate and improve drug development, neurological disease research, and patient care.

    By completing a 10-minute series of augmented reality and motor activities designed to simulate complex Activities of Daily Living on a smartphone or tablet, Altoida’s device extracts and provides robust measurements of neurocognitive function across 13 neurocognitive domains. Our device measures and analyzes nearly 800 multimodal cognitive and functional digital biomarkers. Through the collection of highly granular data from integrated smartphone or tablet sensors, Altoida’s device produces comprehensive neurocognitive domain scores. This data can be tracked longitudinally to reveal trends and patterns while flagging concerning ones.

    This method, along with our innovative artificial intelligence, will pioneer fully digital predictive neurological disease diagnosis. After our Breakthrough Device designation by the FDA, Altoida’s device will enable a highly accurate prediction of whether a patient aged 55 and older will or will not convert from Mild Cognitive Impairment to Alzheimer’s disease.

    Currently, we are working to enable early and accurate diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease through AI-powered precision diagnosis. Our technology will be utilized to monitor disease progression as well as to measure therapeutic response in Parkinson’s disease patients

    To learn more about Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease or about using Altoida’s Precision Neurology platform to monitor your brain health, contact us today.

    Contact Us

    At Altoida, we use digital biomarkers to radically change the method of assessing brain health and cognitive diseases. After nearly two decades of research, we are developing a platform and device to measure and analyze cognitive biomarkers associated with cognitive impairment to evaluate perceptual and memory function.
    Contact Us

    Contact Us

    80 M Street SE, Suite 100 Washington, DC 20003 USA 

    CONTACT@ALTOIDA.COM

    Follow Us

    Policy

    By visiting our Website and/or using the Services in any manner, you acknowledge that you accept the practices and policies outlined in our Privacy Policy.


    Our Disclaimer

    @ Altoida 2022